WHY DO JAZZ GREATS HAVE SUCH COOL NAMES?

Updated: Feb 25, 2019


A sampling of jazz greats.

Sometimes just a little tweak like a nickname can make an ordinary name suddenly sound super cool.


Take Dick 'Night Train" Lane the hall of fame defensive back; if he was just 'Richard Lane' perhaps he wouldn't be seared into our memory.


But many jazz greats have nifty names that seem to fit right into the coolness of the jazz universe.


True, Dick 'Night Train' Lane could have fit in playing bass at the Village Vanguard but I couldn't see Jelly Roll Morton clotheslining a leatherhead and forcing a game winning fumble recovery.


That being said 'Cannonball Adderley' could have.


Not all jazz greats have killer names (Oscar Peterson, David Murray) but I'm convinced, just like 'Germans Love David Hasslehoff' that if you are christened with a cool jazz name at birth you WILL become a great jazz musician.


That's why I named my son 'Skeets Malloy.'


Let's take a look at some of the jazz greats that also have great jazz names.


(Be sure to make it to the bottom to see the winner...)


COLEMAN HAWKINS

Coleman once score 120 points vs the Minnesota Lakers

Coleman Hawkins actually could have been a ballplayer also.


But he went the way of jazz and of course he went the way of jazz sax.


Seems the jazz sax guys always wind up having the coolest names too. So let's consolidate the coolest jazz sax players in the interest of time:



Sonny Rollins

My personal fave to listen to.

Sonny Stitt

If your name is 'Sonny' there's a 50% you will become a jazz saxamaphonist.


John Coltrane

I have a poster of this over my piano...that's why he looks so concerned.

Charlie Parker

Bird.

Ornette Coleman

Waiting for someone to name their kid 'Ornette Coleman Hawkins'

Cannonball Adderley

Not the winner but he placed.

Roland Kirk

His name was so cool saxaphones auditioned to play with HIM.

Zoot Sims

Saw Zoot play once in Appleton, WI

Illinois Jacquet

How do you not become a jazz musician with this name?

Stanley Turrentine

I'm sure the kids called him 'Turpentine' at school but he had the last laugh.

King Curtis

You got your 'Curtis' you got yer 'King.' 'Nuf said.

DEXTER GORDON

You got yer 'Dexter' and you got your 'Gordon.'

DIZZY GILLESPIE

Also placed...HIGH, just above Cannonball.

BILLIE HOLIDAY

Can't live without this pic on my website.

MILES DAVIS

DUKE ELLINGTON

COUNT BASIE

ELLA FITZGERALD

CAB CALLOWAY


SARAH VAUGHAN

My fave of the lady singers.

NAT KING COLE

BIX BEIDERBECKE

WOODY HERMAN

COUNT BASIE

ARTURO SANDOVAL


DINAH WASHINGTON

Maybe she's my favorite of the ladies. Impossible to decide.


JELLY ROLL MORTON

Placed.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG

FLETCHER HENDERSON

LIONEL HAMPTON

MIFF MOLE

LENA HORNE

CHARLES MINGUS

DJANGO REINHARDT

HERBIE HANCOCK

HORACE SILVER


SUN RA

Placed.

WES MONTGOMERY

MAX ROACH

CHICK COREA

STAN KENTON

McCOY TYNER


ERROL GARNER

Placed.

WYNTON MARSALIS

FATS NAVARRO

MEADE LUX LEWIS

ELVIN JONES

CHICK WEBB


PHILLY JOE JONES

Placed.

AND THE WINNER IS...


(drumroll please)


THELONIOUS MONK

I mean, come on.

Thus proving my theory: If you are born with a cool jazz name or tweak it just enough, you WILL become a jazz great.